Trusted leadership will be process oriented. It will exhibit qualities like truthfulness, intelligence, practicality, open-mindedness, and compassion. Trusted leaders will be servant leaders who see that their role is to serve; not to be served. They will be open minded, surrounding themselves with people who are competent and candid. They will be humble enough to acknowledge publicly that they are not all-knowing. They will not need to repeatedly tell everyone how great and wonderful they are.
One of these qualities without the others falls short.
We see driven self-centered people in every part of life - political, business, social, and religious. They are driven by ideology, power and greed. They feed on fear and frustration. When they are in leadership positions, they can do a great deal of damage. Remember authoritarian leaders like Stalin, Hitler and Mao and their roles in world war, famine, genocide, and political persecution.
Self-centered, authoritarians make sure they are safe and secure. They buffer themselves with a circle of loyalists. In the extreme, an authoritarian leader will eliminate "the others" physically. In less extreme circumstances, they marginalize and disenfranchise the outsiders.
Ideologues, using rhetoric, lies and blaming, attempt to do away with the rule of law or distort it to their advantage. Self-centered autocrats create their own brands of ethics and values. They vilify the opposition, removing them from government and private sector positions, replacing them with "loyal" followers.
They treat the free press and anyone who speaks out to contradict the leader as enemies of the people. They scapegoat and blame. They replace free expression and candor with a single voice professing the party line. They make lots of noise to block out any dissension, until they amass enough power to cut it off. Truthfulness is discarded. The authoritarian leader takes credit for any good and blames others for anything bad.
Compromise and collaboration with 'others' become impossible. Scapegoating and blame distract attention from leadership weaknesses, real causes, and to make the authority figure look like a hero.
The Desire for a Savior
Particularly in stressful times, reliance on authoritarians who promise to make everything alright is understandable but short sighted. It leads otherwise well-meaning people to grasp at straws and help to create a dysfunctional future. Germans, suffering from economic problems, and faced with conflict among extremists,
Adolph Hitler. People want a savior to sweep away the old and bring in the new.
Honest Process Focused Leadership
Instead of seeking the next great dictator or the party that promises "Greatness" seek a leader who relies on process as opposed to personality and rhetoric.
Seek a leader honest enough to accept the positive and negative parts of the old when bringing in the new. Someone with the courage and open mindedness to even see the positive aspects of opposing positions. Someone who attempts to find win-win solutions.
A realistic process centered approach is founded on fact and science, tempered by fairness, caring and compassion. It roots out causes and provides remedies when the causes cannot be rooted out. It recognizes that everything is caused by a process as opposed to someone. It recognizes that there are paradoxes and no perfect simple solutions to complex problems. It recognizes that there are trade-offs and difficult decisions to be made.
To change an outcome, change the process - the sequence of events that create an outcome.
The process may be naturally occurring or designed. The outcome can be anything - a solution, a product, war or peace, physical, economic and social health, angry outbursts or emotionally driven withdrawal. There is always a process whenever any result or change occurs. And, there is continuous change.
The process-oriented leader seeks to maintain a healthy process; not to only achieve some fixed goal or win a battle or an election but to set in motion ongoing improvement that benefits all.
Elect Trustworthy Leaders
A process-oriented leader sees the reality of a continuous movement that does not begin or end with a term of office. The process-oriented leader looks into the future and paints a picture of what is likely to happen as current behavior carries forward into the future.
Authoritarian leaders take credit for the positive and blame others for the negative. Trustworthy leaders recognize that it is effective decision making and follow-through are responsible for positive outcomes.
Don't be deluded by rhetoric that fuels fear and division. Realize that all it takes is a few years to turn a country into an authoritarian dictatorship led by demagogues and ideologues (from the right or the left) who will harm many for the "
May we learn from experience and value free expression, and a middle road between extremist ideologies that balances appropriate government with fairness and personal freedom.
May we elect trustworthy leaders.